How to Write An Expository Paragraph

This guide will tell you how to write an expository paragraph and build your essay writing skills.

An expository paragraph is used to explain or describe something. These paragraphs are part of expository essay writing, making up expository essays and reports. These paragraphs are the building blocks of informative writing projects. Each expository paragraph opens up a central point supporting the project’s thesis statement.

An expository paragraph explains the topic you are discussing in your writing. The primary goal of the paragraph is to educate or inform the reader. This can show the author’s knowledge or expertise on a specific topic. In research papers, these paragraphs typically explain one point in the paper’s structure. They are the primary body paragraphs of expository essay writing projects.

If you need to write an informative research paper, knowing how to write a good expository paragraph is vital. This guide will help you learn how to build this paragraph to support and substantiate your writing. It pairs nicely with our guide for analyzing a paragraph.

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Expository Paragraphs in Comparison to Other Writing Types

Expository writing is one of the four main types of writing. It stands in contrast to narrative, descriptive and persuasive essay paragraphs.

A narrative essay paragraph seeks to tell a personal story or show personal growth. Second, descriptive essay paragraphs describe an item or event using words that pull in the five senses. Third, persuasive essay paragraphs seek to persuade the reader to accept the writer’s point of view on a controversial topic. Finally, expository paragraphs seek to provide information and facts or argue a point. You might also be interested in our list of paragraph writing topics.

How to Write an Expository Paragraph

An expository paragraph has a specific structure. It starts with introductory sentences that include the topic sentence, followed by body sentences, and ends with a conclusion. Interestingly, this follows the basic structure of a five-paragraph essay but replaces the paragraphs with sentences. Check out our guide on the best expository writing topics.

Step 1: Choose Your Topic

Before you can write an expository paragraph, you must have a topic. This type of paragraph aims to expound on or explain an idea. You will need to find a topic with enough information and research to write a full paragraph. If you are going to write an essay, make sure the topic is sufficient.

Step 2: Write a Topic Sentence

To write an expository paragraph, you must first decide your main point. The topic sentence is the basis for all of your prewriting and writing activities. The thesis or topic sentence for the paragraph will tell the reader what they will learn from reading.

This paragraph summarizes the main thoughts that you will explain in the body of the paragraph. If the paragraph argues, you will state your position in the topic sentence. It needs to tell the reader why they should read the paragraph and what they will learn from it.

Step 3: Write Introductory Sentences

How to write an expository paragraph? Write introductory sentences
The introductory sentences work as the foundation and the door

Now you are ready to write introductory sentences. How you write the piece may come before the topic sentence or directly after it. These sentences use transition words to move from the paragraph preceding the one you are writing. They also introduce the topic of the paragraph.

If you think of your paragraph like a house, the introductory sentences work as the foundation and the door. They set the stage for the rest of the sentences and give the reader an entry point into your ideas and thoughts.

In these sentences, you should refute counterpoints to your idea, summarize the arguments you will later discuss, and state your problem or issues. It would be best not to suggest that you lack knowledge or use generalizations. It would help if you also did not use a dictionary definition. Finally, do not directly state intentions, such as saying, “In this paragraph, I will discuss. . .”

However, it would be best if you captured the reader’s interest and attention when writing these sentences. For example, you can open with a quotation, surprising fact, anecdote, or statistic, but make it something that will make the reader want to continue reading.

Step 4: Write the Body Sentences

After the introductory sentences, you will have your body sentences. These support the argument in your thesis statement. They may include quotations, paraphrases, and statistics from your research. Every one of the body sentences needs to provide relevant, supportive information. Words that help transition to the following sentence help the paragraph to flow.

Body sentences are the structure of the house you are building with your paragraph. They should be firm and adequately support your topic. They should use examples, statistics, and facts to bring more insight into the topic.

If you use quotes in your body sentences, explain why they are essential to your topic sentence. Use proper citations to credit the original author for quotes and paraphrases in your body sentences.

In an expository paragraph, you can write as many body sentences as possible to explain your point. Each point in an essay outline will usually need one paragraph, so sometimes, these paragraphs can be quite lengthy. However, if you find yourself talking about more than one point, you should break the paragraph into one paragraph per point.

Step 5: Write the Concluding Sentences

The concluding sentence is the last sentence of the paragraph. It restates the topic sentence and adds closure to the thoughts in the paragraph. It may segway into the next paragraph, but it does not have to do so. The main goal of the concluding sentence is to wrap up what you have said and give your reader a sense of closure.

The conclusion needs to serve as the roof of the house you create in your paragraph. It sums everything up and contains your ideas within the paragraph so that you can move on to the next paragraph.

While the concluding sentence should restate the topic sentence, it should not simply rework the same sentence. It should not contain over-used phrases like “in conclusion” or “to summarize.” It also should not make any absolute claims.

Step 6: Use Expository Paragraphs in Different Types of Writing

There are several types of expository writing that all use expository paragraphs. Understanding this structure will help you write the following types of essays:

  • Process Essays: Process essays are essays that tell how to do something. The body paragraphs of this essay typically explain the process with a step-by-step breakdown. Each paragraph will outline the details of one step. 
  • Definition Essays: Definition essays will describe and define a subject. To write this type of essay, you will present clear facts about a subject while refuting any common myths. These essays often take on historical events or people and rely on primary sources to define their topics.
  • Compare and Contrast Essays: Comparison essays compare and contrast two similar or different items. This type of essay works very well for the five-paragraph essay. The introduction will introduce the two items. The three body paragraphs will focus on their attributes, one paragraph each, and how they are similar and different in the third paragraph. The final paragraph is the conclusion. 
  • Cause and Effect Essays: A cause and effect essay looks at a cause and its effects, or vice versa. It can analyze how the effects resulted from a particular cause, or it can look at one effect and point out the multiple causes that led to it. 
  • Classification Essays: Classification essays allow you to write about multiple subjects within one category. You will discuss the unique characteristics of each subject in each of the expository paragraphs in this essay. For example, if you choose to write an expository essay about different breeds of racehorses, your paragraphs could discuss quarter horses, thoroughbreds, and Arabians. 
  • Problem and Solution Essays: Problem and solution essays use a problem as the central thesis and the solution to that problem as the points in the essay outline. Each point must use expository writing to show that it is a solution, with data and facts to back it up.

Step 7: Prewrite Before Writing

As you create your expository paragraph, you want to make sure that you follow the proper writing process. This process starts with prewriting, which involves getting basic ideas down on paper as you brainstorm your topic. Your prewriting may happen when you create your more extensive essay outline, or it may be done when you sit down to write your paragraph.

Step 8: Create a Rough Draft

How to write an expository paragraph? Create a rough draft
In your rough draft, you may have some grammar or syntax mistakes

Once you have your ideas down, you will write a rough draft of your paragraph. This first draft turns your ideas into sentences following the expository paragraph format.

In your rough draft, you may have some grammar or syntax mistakes. These mistakes will get ironed out later in the writing process, so do not stress much about them. However, do try to write as cleanly as possible.

When you write, use the third person voice, and apply proper grammar techniques to your writing. The next few steps will be easier if you choose the proper voice and use good grammar in your rough draft.

Step 9: Look for Additional Expository Essay Topics

If you are looking for expository essay topics to write your paragraphs for your essay, consider your audience. If your instructor gave parameters for your essay topic, start with those. If not, you can use these writing prompts to get your ideas started:

  • Write a cause-and-effect essay about a particular historical event, such as a war or significant economic change.
  • Write a comparison essay about two pieces of literature.
  • Write a descriptive essay about the character of a political or historical figure.
  • Give step-by-step directions for how to cook a particular dish.
  • Choose a political or ethical problem and use your essay to outline some potential solutions for it.

In addition, you can look to literature, science reviews and studies, news reports, and informative texts to find additional expository essay topic ideas. Look for subject matter with a decent number of resources you can use as sources to write your paragraphs, making the writing task more manageable. Remember, your goal with this type of essay is not to present your opinion but rather to provide information, so you will need the information to write one.

Step 10: Write Your Final Paragraph

After proofreading your work, you are ready to write your final paragraph. Use the changes you found in your rough draft to draft a final copy that will draw in the reader and clearly explain your points. Format the paragraph according to your teacher’s rules or the publication platform you use.

Step 11: Proofread the Work

Now that you have a rough draft of your paragraph, you are ready to proofread it. 

You will improve the grammar and syntax during the proofreading process, but you will also make sure the paragraph follows the format. For example, each body sentence needs to support the topic sentence fully, and the transition words help the piece flow. Plan on revising the paragraph at least once to ensure it reads well. For more help with your following essay, read our guide on how to write a lot of words (when you don’t feel like it).